Since the ‘What if?’ narrative has become popular, many players have discussed its place in Magic: the Gathering. The idea of exploring how different decisions in critical moments of established stories would play out in the long haul has interested invested readers forever. With Marvel’s recent successful telling of such a story, MTG players speculating about the most exciting theoretical changes to witness in its lore is only a hop, skip, and a jump away. Well, according to MTG designer Mark Rosewater, that storytelling may become a reality.
The Most Popular MTG What if? MTG Scenarios
As frequent readers may note, Mark Rosewater answers a lot of player questions on his Blogatog. These can range from feedback towards certain mechanics, simply praising the Wizards of the Coast team for a job well done, raise some concerns, or suggesting some ideas. However, Tumblr user triforce777’s question ended up opening a rabbit hole that, admittedly, has been opened before. Notably, Planar Chaos already did a sort of ‘MTG what if?’ scenario when Dominaria’s temporal fabric ripped right down the middle, but its been a long time since that set has come and gone:
“Has there ever been discussion of a set for alternate story timelines, like Planar Chaos but for the story instead of the mechanics? Like what if Gix had corrupted Urza instead of Mishra, what if Ugin didn’t help imprison the Eldrazi and Sorin and Nahiri tried to kill them instead, what if the Blackblade actually was able to kill Bolas during War of the Spark, etc.?”triforce777
Rosewater simply responded asking others what their favorite ‘MTG what if?’ scenarios would be. As such the floodgates were opened.
Karn Compleated While Venser Lives
The most popular what if? scenario posed by fans, by far, was if Karn was completely Compleated during the events of New Phyrexia set, allowing Venser to survive in his place:
“What if Karn was fully compleated (and thus no longer a planeswalker), while Venser lived?” – suigenyukiouji
“Karn compleated and Venser alive” – Jeskaisekai
For those unaware of Mirrodin’s last appearance previous to the story arc that concluding with March of the Machine, Karn fell dangerously close to becoming Compleat. While Melira was able to cleanse the Golem’s body of the Phyrexian oil while he was trapped in the center of Mirrodin, his heart had already been claimed, representing Compleation. Venser felt himself falling victim to Phthisis – a disease that originated with overexposure to Powerstones. As a result, he decided to sacrifice himself and use his Planeswalker spark to save Karn. This gave birth to the Karn Liberated MTG card that terrorized Modern players for years in the UrzaTron deck.
This ‘what if?’ reality poses a possibility that Venser survives his illness and lets Karn fall to darkness. While no one knows what would truly happen, the Praetors may have never risen to power in the first place. Phyrexia may have also been much more terrifying with Karn at the Father of Machines.
While this MTG what if? may take a darker turn towards the heroic efforts to save Mirrodin before it was corrupted, another popular what if? scenario would be to see Mirrodin as Karn, its creator, intended. Pure Mirrodin, as it has been coined, isn’t really a world we’re familiar with.
Mishra Wins The Brothers’ War
While not suggested the most across platforms, this particular suggestion got the most upvotes on Reddit. Since Mishra was basically a Phyrexian by the end of the war, this may have been the same as Yawgmoth triumphing over Urza in the end.
A big reason why Gix tempted Mishra to Yawgmoth’s side in the story was because Mishra was sick. Apparently, he had a lung disease and would have died a few years after the war ended. After Redditors clarified this point, a final ‘what if?’ question was posed that would be truly interesting to explore:
“In the alternate history if he didn’t get sick he might not have been as tempted by Gix. Him winning without Phyrexia would be more interesting imo” – biz_mal
This led to a fury of discussion that could have ended in a multitude of different ways – but also expanded the decision tree to potential ‘what if?’ scenarios regarding Urza’s story. What if Urza was the one who met Gix? What if Ashnod took over the timeline? This could be a fantastic future set for MTG designers to consider.
This point further expands into another popular what if? scenario that simply explores what would have happened if Yawgmoth won all those years ago. This is mirrored by a scenario where Yawgmoth, or even Nicol Bolas, never successfully rose to power. Would a greater evil replace them, or would the new villain be a shadow of the intended timeline? Would there even be an enemy?
The last popular category of what if? scenarios encompass a series of color swaps, particularly to icons that uphold a color identity. Seeing the Ravnican Guilds swap color identities, especially since MTG players still call color combinations by the names of the Guilds, could present some particularly interesting settings. Other players desired to see famous Planeswalker characters take on different colors – a Green Jace if you will.
“In my case, I would like to see color shifted versions of the guilds/guild leaders of Ravnica or alternative “origins” for the original Gatewatch members (What if Gideon followed Erebos? What if Baral took Chandra under his wing? What if Nissa became a disciple of the Eldrazi? What if Liliana was a non-heretical healer? What if Jace…okay I don’t have a good one for Jace yet.)”gobr92
My personal what if? of choice would probably concern the existence of a Devoid Planeswalker. What would a Planeswalker with the need to feed on a Plane’s innate mana (like the Eldrazi) look like? Another one is if Comet, the Planeswalking pup from Unfinity, made a canonic appearance in the main story. Should another ‘MTG what if?’ set make its way into Magic: the Gathering, these are some of the categories that interest players the most right now. Would these be interesting for you to experience? Consider responding to Rosewater’s question with your own favorite scenario!